(Dillingen: Sebald Mayer, 1572, 1580, 1575, 1574, 1575). 104 x 160 mm. (4 1/8 x 6 1/4").  leaves (last blank); 5 p.l., 107 (of 171) leaves, ending after part I;  leaves;  leaves;  (of 110, lacking title page) leaves. Five separately published works in one volume.
REMARKABLE GERMAN SIX-FOLD "PUZZLE" BINDING, with no spine (as designed), rebound using 19th century covers of calf embossed with a design resembling an Oriental rug, a large central mandorla enclosed by a frame of triangular compartments containing either three anular dots or a botanical stamp, all edges gilt and with original 16th century gauffering, newly installed (18th Century?) paste-paper endpapers (expert repairs to hinges). With a total of 96 woodcuts, 88 of these in the first work. VD 16 W 817; VD 16 W 812; VD 16 F 2794; VD 16 G 390, VD 16 F 3305; VD 16 S 5273. For the binding: The Wormsley Library 34; Köster, "Mehrfachbände und Vexierbücher" XI, XVIII. A little wear to binding folds at center of boards, leaves with occasional mild foxing or trivial stains, printer's error to two leaves resulting in three small patches of lost text, other trivial imperfections, but generally clean and fresh internally, and the expertly restored binding representing A FINE SPECIMEN of this rare and fragile style.
This sammelband of German Catholic devotionals from the proto-printer of Dillingen is an excellent example of a "Vexierbuch"--a "puzzle" or "tease" book--with five different 16th century works in two different sizes bound together and opening six different ways. The large book occupies the middle portion of the text block and opens like a normal octavo (except that it is divorced from the covers); the four smaller works, each measuring approximately 4 x 3 inches, are bound, with their protective boards, either on top of or underneath this middle section, and open with their boards flexing at the center. In the Wormsley Library catalogue (1999), Robert J. D. Harding notes that such volumes "are usually found on religious books" (as here), and suggests "perhaps they were handed around for quiet amusement during long sermons." Like the Wormsley book, ours is a "Sechsfächerband" or six-fold binding, and is also on a group of German religious works printed in the 1570s. Köster records 19 six-fold, backless bindings, mostly on devotional texts printed in Germany between 1570 and 1590. His work disproved a long-held belief that Vexierbücher were an exclusively Protestant, Northern German curiosity: two of the 19 six-fold bindings he lists in his register were, like ours, on Catholic texts printed in the Bavarian city of Dillingen, which, unlike many areas of Germany, remained Catholic. One of the two (Köster XI, now at the Bavarian State Library) contains four of the same titles found here, all published by Sebald Mayer, who had established the first printing press in the city in 1550 to serve the new Jesuit-run university with Catholic material. The works contained in our spineless binding include: a lavishly illustrated prayer book, a book dedicated to prayers for the sick and suffering, meditations on the suffering of Christ, "strong and powerful" prayers, and meditations on the merits of spiritual, rather than physical ecstasies. "Vexierbucher" are rare in the marketplace, perhaps because, as Wormsley notes, "These bindings are structurally weak, and many examples must have fallen to pieces very quickly"; fortunately our binding was once owned by a connoisseur who found a skilled artisan to replace the failing boards with the present attractive embossed covers. ABPC and RBH find just two other specimens at auction since 1975, one of these (which sold for a hammer price of $11,000 in 2006) was also on Dillingen imprints. (ST15461)
Add to Cart Price: $12,500.00
PJP Catalog: NY20BF.037